|Kahne wins at Bristol|
Hamlin and Logano traded barbs via Twitter following the season-opening Daytona 500, but the two came to actual blows on the race track (and nearly off) Sunday. Logano spun in Turn Two while racing Jeff Gordon for the lead, a crash triggered when Hamlin bumped him from behind. Logano backed into the wall, damaging his Shell-Pennzoil Ford sufficiently to eliminate him from contention.
“I meant to run into him," admitted Hamlin after the race. "I didn't mean to spin him out, but his day was fine. He had a bad day anyway, for whatever reason. We finished bad and he finished bad. It's even.”
Their burgeoning Hamlin/Logano feud set the stage for the race’s dramatic final restart with just 39 laps remaining, when leader Brad Keselowski started alongside Kahne, but lost the lead after being hit from behind by Hamlin. Kahne never looked back, leading the rest of the way to record his first career Bristol win by 1.7 seconds over Kyle Busch. Keselowski, meanwhile, made no bones about his unhappiness with Hamlin’s rough stuff, saying he "got ran over” on the final restart. "I haven't seen the replay,” he said, “(but) I know my rear tires were off the ground before I got to the restart zone."
Hamlin, meanwhile, pinned the blame squarely on Logano, saying the Penske Racing driver “ran into me and shoved me into (Keselowski). I was the pinball in the sandwich. Once (Keselowski) throttled up, the 22 lifted me up and flat-out pinned me against the 2."
|Logano (L) and Hamlin clashed|
Tempers boiled over after the checkered flag, when Logano attempted to confront Hamlin while his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate was still unbuckling his seat belts. He was pushed away by a Hamlin crewman, triggering a melee of pushing and shoving.
Logano refused to disclose what he said to Hamlin, saying, “That is for me to know and Denny to know.”
Hamlin also played it coy saying, "He said he was coming for me, (but) I usually don't see him, so it's usually not a factor."
The two once again sparred on Twitter after the race, with Logano chastising Hamlin for not removing his helmet during their post-race confrontation.
“Hey @dennyhamlin great job protecting that genius brain of yours by keeping your helmet on,” tweeted Logano.
“Why's that,” replied Hamlin. “What would u do?”
“Show you some love and appreciation,” said Logano, promoting Hamlin to ask, “Need my address?”
Polesitter Busch topped Keselowski for the runner-up spot, with Keselowski assuming the championship points lead with his fourth Top-5 in as many starts this season. Kurt Busch finished fourth in his new ride with Furniture Row Racing, with Clint Bowyer fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray completed the Top-10.
Aside from Logano and Hamlin’s histrionics, the day’s most dramatic turn came with 100 laps remaining, when leader Jeff Gordon blew a tire and crashed, taking pursuer Matt Kenseth along with him. Both drivers were sidelined for the day, leaving Gordon to apologize for an incident he was powerless to avoid.
"I hate it for Matt Kenseth," he said. "He was coming, and it was just a matter of time before he caught us. We needed points (today) and this definitely isn't going to get us many."
Kenseth was gracious in defeat, saying, "There's not a lot either one of us can do about that. There was nowhere to go."Photos: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR,